By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Do you know that you have power even though you might not be rich? Has it occurred to you to use your voice? Are you aware that you have the ability to get things done if you pay attention to what you do? If you can change people’s minds without much effort, that’s a gift and power. Or you are able to prevent disasters from happening because of your wisdom and quick response. That’s profound power.
Each of us has immense personal power. But do you think about what you possess and how you can cultivate that power to make a difference in other people’s lives? If you do it with other people, that collective power could have a much bigger and more dramatic impact.
Personal and collective power are interrelated. One cannot exist without the other. When others follow your example, you can inspire them. You grow not only your own power, but you empower the community. That’s leadership.
Use your voice
It’s the first thing to grow your power. As I said earlier, whenever you have a voice, use it. Sometimes, you do it for yourself, and for others. But if you don’t use it, you lose it. Every time you build your voice, your confidence, influence, and skills grow. The more you do it, the more creative you become in strengthening your credibility and reputation, and more doors you will open for yourself and the community.
Speak out. The late Al Sugiyama and Bob Santos always spoke their mind, especially in public. ACRS Executive Director Diane Narasaki and community activist Frank Irigon never get tired of speaking out for others.
The recent promotion of the first Asian American to assistant police chief at the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is a good example. For decades, Sugiyama and Irigon have always advocated for Asians to be in top management at the SPD. Now, Chief Carmen Best has promoted one!
Lift others up
When you lift others up, you help yourself. It shows you have the power and the ability to achieve and overcome challenges. Always give your community a hand. You’ll never know what it will lead to. Serendipity is one of the rewards. There is truth that the person who contributes receives more joy than the actual receiver. Take Jerry and Charlene Lee for example.
They have organized giveaways of Costco chickens and other goodies every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they have incredible fun doing it year after year. Their group of volunteers is growing. They have found the real meaning of Thanksgiving — to give and give and give.
Turn complaints into action
Don’t sit around whining. If you hate something, think of what you can do to positively change the outcome. It may not get results today, it may be tomorrow or much later.
Do your part. So next time you whine, stop. Do something constructive, such as sending a letter to the newspaper editor. Start a petition. Sign petitions.
The easiest way
Voting is the easiest and most efficient way to tell others what you desire. If you don’t like something, vote against it. If you appreciate a candidate, vote for her or him. Support your elected Asian officials. When you support them, we are stronger as a community. Casting that vote means you actualize your thinking into action. The key here is that you act. If you don’t vote, people write you off. What is worse, if you are Asian or a person of color, observers rapidly write off the entire community: “Asians don’t vote.”
Whether you like it or not, others don’t see you as one, they see you as a group — the impact of stereotypes. It’s your responsibility to educate others on stereotypes.
Vote on Nov. 6 in the general election. Your vote is your voice. Use it.
Cherish it. Expand it. That’s how your community will grow strong. Be proud to participate in our democratic process.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.